German man jailed for nearly 10 years over mosque attack

The charred entrance to the Fatih mosque in Dresden, Germany, after it was attacked by a man on Sept 26, 2016. The accused, Nino Koehler, had apologised during his trial to the imam and his family.
The charred entrance to the Fatih mosque in Dresden, Germany, after it was attacked by a man on Sept 26, 2016. The accused, Nino Koehler, had apologised during his trial to the imam and his family.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

DRESDEN (Germany) • A German man who used a homemade bomb to attack a mosque in the eastern city of Dresden was sentenced to nearly 10 years in jail for what prosecutors called a xenophobic crime.

The accused, Nino Koehler, had apologised during his trial to the imam and his family.

No one was hurt in the attack.

The bomb damaged the door of the Fatih mosque while the family were inside on Sept 26, 2016.

That same evening, the accused planted another homemade pipe bomb that slightly damaged a convention centre in the city, which was days away from hosting festivities to mark 26 years since the reunification of East and West Germany.

The attacks in Dresden, the capital of Saxony state and the birthplace of the anti-Islam Pegida movement, shocked Germany.

The city's district court last Friday found Koehler guilty of attempted murder, setting off explosives and attempted aggravated arson.

The judge sentenced him to nine years and eight months in jail.

Prosecutors accused him during the trial of harbouring racist and Islamophobic motives, and media reports said he had railed against "lazy Africans" and "criminal foreigners" at a past Pegida rally.

Koehler, who was arrested in December 2016, told the judge that he never meant to hurt anyone.

Saxony, in Germany's former Communist east, has become a hot spot for far-right protests and hate crimes after more than a million asylum seekers arrived in Europe's biggest economy since 2015.

The Saxony town of Chemnitz was rocked by racist violence last week, after far-right mobs took to the streets to protest against the fatal stabbing of a German man, allegedly by an Iraqi and a Syrian.

Pegida and the right-wing Alternative for Germany groups were preparing for a "silent march" in Chemnitz yesterday in memory of the stab victim, adding to midweek demonstrations by far-right demonstrators to protest against Chancellor Angela Merkel's immigration policy.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 02, 2018, with the headline 'German man jailed for nearly 10 years over mosque attack'. Print Edition | Subscribe